CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bragging rights won't be the only thing up for grabs when Kanawha County rivals Capital and George Washington face off tonight.
A No. 3 seed in the Class AAA playoffs - good for first- and second-round home games - likely will go to the victor of the Mountain State Athletic Conference match-up, which is scheduled for a 7:30 kickoff at Steve Edwards Sr. Field on The Hill.
The loser will remain in the top eight and host at least one playoff game, which is not a bad consolation prize.
Capital Coach Jon Carpenter couldn't care less about those scenarios and seeds.
"I'm not smart enough to crunch numbers," Carpenter said. "If I was smart enough to crunch numbers, I would be an accountant. If you have dreams of winning a state championship, you don't even focus on what if you lose. You just worry about winning.
"I think God made me just dumb enough to focus on one thing at a time. We just worry about who we play that week, and everything else will work itself out. As long as you keep winning, that keeps a smile on your face."
GW Coach Steve Edwards Jr. isn't too concerned with the playoff ramifications, either.
"If you get the No. 3 seed, that means you won the game," Edwards said. "That is what we are hoping to do. The best thing about this game is neither one of us is in a position where we have to win to make the tournament. Win, lose or draw, we are both in there.
"You talk to your kids about big games and rivalries, and this is a big game and rivalry, but it is only one-tenth of the season.
The most important thing is getting into the tournament, and we have done that, so we are in a good spot."
The No. 3 Cougars and the No. 5 Patriots enter with identical 8-1 records.
GW has played its past three games - a 49-40 loss to Cabell Midland, a 54-17 victory versus Parkersburg and a 34-14 victory versus Ripley - without its leading rusher, senior tailback Draven Riffe. Senior wide receiver Jacob Jackson has filled in admirably for Riffe, running 121 times for 956 yards and seven touchdowns in those three games.
"He is better than 90 percent of the kids playing tailback in West Virginia," Carpenter said of Jackson. "He has played second fiddle up to this point, and that says a lot about him that he is willing to do that. They are both pretty good, and they can both beat you."
The Patriots now have two 1,000-yard rushers in Riffe (155 carries for 1,379 yards and 18 touchdowns in six games) and Jackson (126-1,219-15 in nine games).
"We have to stop them from running the ball down our throats, and we have to stop them from taking it from us and keeping it from us for long periods of time," said Carpenter, whose team allows 16.7 points and 211.3 total yards per game. "We have to get the ball back and get the ball out in space and put points on the board. We don't want to get into a pushing match with them because they are big and strong and physical."